Although injuries have dominated the Western Conference playoffs thus far, hoops enthusiasts are in for a treat when the Spurs open the conference semifinals against Kevin Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder. The two have had some epic battles in recent memory, with the victor moving on to the NBA Finals. Coming into this series, the Spurs swept the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round, while OKC dispatched the Dallas Mavericks in five games.
“They play hard,” Manu Ginobili told reporters at yesterday’s practice, describing the opponent. “They go on great stretches. Sometimes when they start feeling good offensively they get even more aggressive. Defensively they are good at the boards so it’s a good, solid team. We got a ton of respect. We’ve had some very tough battles against each other and looking forward to this one too.”
Spurs guards Danny Green and Patty Mills found their offensive rhythm in the Memphis series and will be instrumental in defending Thunder wrecking ball Russell Westbrook. The level of Westbrook’s late game performance could very easily sway the series. For the Spurs to succeed, LaMarcus Aldridge must continue to embrace and consistently produce in big games.
Fellow Longhorn Kevin Durant should have his hands full on both ends on the court, with Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard shadowing him. This is the last season on Durant’s current contract, and early rumblings suggest that he may join Aldridge in San Antonio. Despite the fact that the two were never able to team up in Austin, the prospect is intriguing, which could make for some interesting chatter during an extended, entertaining series.
Spurs vs. Thunder Game 1, Saturday, April 30, 7:30 PM, TNT Game 2, Monday, May 2, 8:30 PM, TNT Game 3, Friday, May 6, 8:30 PM, ESPN Game 4, Sunday, May 8, 7:00 PM, TNT Game 5*, Tuesday, May 10, TBD, TNT Game 6*, Thursday, May 12, TBD, ESPN Game 7*, Sunday, May 15, TBD, TNT *If necessary